Clearwater Beach vs. St. Pete Beach

Two multi-awarded beaches, St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach are some of the best in Southern Florida. These fabulous strips are perhaps some of the most jam-packed in the Gulf of Mexico. You can expect to have some fun under the sun, the sand, and the waves.
Clearwater Beach vs. St. Pete Beach

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St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach are all perfect for families and adventurous friend groups. St. Pete Beach has water sports and history on offer, from its sandy shores to grand resorts. Clearwater Beach is best for the curious and fun-loving bunch.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is a popular destination. The area is perfect for sun chasers, gorgeous beaches, and family-friendly entertainment options. The resort area is located on a short, 3-mile-long (4.8 km) barrier island, making it simple to get around on foot or by bicycle. The area is perfect for adventurous families and fun-loving adults. The stretch also gives off a different vibe as soon as the sun goes down.

What Makes Clearwater Beach Unique

Beach Walk

One of Clearwater Beach’s most popular stops is its Beach Walk. While it can be likened to any other beachside promenade in the world, Clearwater’s is a local institution. It is the most happening center in the area, almost as if it’s the main artery.

Clearwater Beach Board Walk is incredibly jam-packed and full of charms. You can have rows of shops, restaurants, and hotels on one side, and the picturesque beach on the other. It offers both accommodation and activities for locals and tourists alike.

Along its semi-cosmopolitan side, you can find quite a roster of restaurants and coffee shops around. You can easily sample the best local flavors in the many homegrown shops and places. Many of the restaurants even have the best alfresco dining, allowing you to soak in the sea breeze and people-watch. Plus, you also get to have a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Mexico.

The beach walk also runs parallel to the beach so you can easily go down and have a quick dip or just simply lounge on the sand. There are rental beach chairs and umbrellas for that extra laid-back time on the beach. Clearwater Beach’s sands are also popular for having many broken shells perfect for collecting, you can take some and have them as souvenirs.

The beach walk also provides opportunities for many water sports and activities such as surfing and jet skiing. There are several rental shops for jet skis, surfboards, and kayaks. You can also fish on the beach walk. Walk just up north and you’ll find another icon, the famous Pier 60 offering opportunities for baiting and catching.

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Pier 60

Another one of Clearwater Beach’s icons, Pier 60 is a must-visit. This popular strip offers tons of fun and excitement for everyone, from curious kids to fun-loving adults. It is perhaps the most animated strip in all Clearwater Beach.

A mere part of the legendary Beach Walk, you can fish here during the day especially as it has an amazing array of potential catches. You can find plenty of rental shops around the walk, just beyond the sand.

Just nearby the pier, you can also find spots where kids can enjoy the sun as well. There are playgrounds and inflatable slides along the sands. The beach walk and the pier itself are energetic and family-oriented.

But the true gem of the pier reveals itself as soon as the sun starts to set. The daily Sunset Festival in Pier 60 is a tourist draw as much as it is a local institution. The strip shifts into a center of curiosity and entertainment with all energetic and quirky charms.

Sunsets at Pier 60 hosts a wide array of charms, from street performances and live music, to specialty pop-up stores. If you want a taste of Clearwater Beach’s local magic, visiting Pier 60 at sunset is the best way to go.

You can find all sorts of curious items and local specialties from the many homegrown businesses setting up shop there. You can also enjoy magic tricks, fire dancing, and many street performances. And live music concerts are also held along the pier for that added entertainment.

Dolphin Watching

With its famous spots and reputation, you can expect to find the Gulf of Mexico to be a special place even though they’re American shores. Just beyond the beaches, the vast expanse of the gulf is home to a slew of marine life.

To take advantage of this charm, Clearwater Beach offers tons of tours. They all take you to encounter many of these magnificent creatures, most especially the well-loved dolphin.

Across the sea, Dolphin Tours across Clearwater Beach can take you to areas where pods of dolphins usually congregate or swim around. The tour provides the opportunity to witness how dolphins behave in their natural habitat. Essential information and interesting trivia are also discussed. This helps give a better understanding of these marine animals.

On top of satisfying your curiosity, the tour also has refreshments and many other kinds of beverages on board. Imagine sailing through the gulf, sighting dolphins while sipping tropical coolers.

But you can’t only experience this with dolphin tours across Clearwater Beach. Cruise lines also offer excursions and dolphin encounters, along with stops across many beaches in the region.

Water Tours

Exploring and conquering the exciting expanse of Clearwater Beach is fairly easy. Should you decide to tour the area, you can choose from the many options there are. You can have your conquest via the skies or the seas.

But for most, they opt to explore Clearwater through the seas. Tours on boats and ships may be quite common, but companies across Clearwater Beach have tricks up their sleeves to up the ante.

Here are some of the options you must try:

Pirate-Themed Cruise

Southern Florida and perhaps the rest of the Gulf of Mexico had pirates written across their history. They were known for pillaging and invading incoming ships from Europe. Pirates may have had a nasty reputation in the past, but today they have become a gimmick in many of Clearwater Beach’s cruises.

For families, Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is perhaps the most popular option. It is a hit among kids with a fascination for pirates. The cruise features role-playing, treasure hunting, and live entertainment. Families can expect to have quite a twist to their Clearwater Beach cruise.

The Calypso Queen

Just like its name, cruise tours on the Calpyson Queen are as grand as you can imagine. The ship has three stories taking you around the famed banks of Clearwater Beach. You get to enjoy the views of the gulf and the beach provided by the tour.

On top of its size and gorgeous views, the Calypso Queen also offers two full-service bars along with complimentary drinks. The tour also includes a lunch or dinner buffet. There is also live music onboard complete with a DJ and dancing. Expect to have a festive mood as if you’re sailing through the Caribbean.

Private Boat Tour

Clearwater Beach’s streets and sand are always packed with people, both locals and tourists. It can be pretty difficult to have the beach to yourself if you feel like exploring. The best way to explore the surrounding area and escape at the same time is through a private boat tour.

Given a budget and a desire to make the most out of your Clearwater Beach trip, a private boat tour is a great option. Private boat tour companies can be found throughout the beach and are often on double-decker boats. You will be taken beyond the banks and across the gulf, as well as other nearby beaches.

St. Pete Beach

Situated on a barrier island, this resort city is named after its iconic neighboring city. St. Pete Beach is everything you can ever expect in a hit beach. It is even voted a top beach many times already. Perfect for families with curious kids and splurging adults, St. Pete Beach shouldn’t be a question.

What Makes St. Pete Beach

The Fascinating Don CeSar Hotel

At first glance at its name, Don CeSar Hotel may seem like just another hotel perfect for visiting tourists in St. Pete Beach. But, when you visit the iconic pink hotel, Don CeSar is perhaps one of the most historical hotels in all of Florida. The Don CeSar made its debut during the 1920s. The era was famous for its flappers, radio, and the Art Deco style.

In 1924, after relocating to Florida, Thomas Rowe bought 80 acres (32 ha) of what is now St. Petersburg Beach. A year later, Rowe commissioned to build his vision for the “Pink Palace.” The noble Don Ce-Sar from Vincent Wallace’s light opera Maritana served as the inspiration for the historical Don Ce-Sar.

Then, in 1928, the hotel finally opened, 300 percent over budget. Nevertheless, it drew some of the biggest talents of the time right away, including both Lou Gehrig and Scott Fitzgerald. In 1931, the hotel earned a three-year spring training deal with the New York Yankees, which helped him get through the Depression.

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However, The Don is more than simply glitz. Additionally, it has proudly served the nation. It served as a subbase hospital and convalescent facility for flyers returning from combat during the Second World War.

For almost 30 years, it served as a recreation center and regional VA office. A group of investors acquired the Pink Palace in 1972. They were driven by their passion for historical preservation, and it was then fully renovated to become a resort.

1973 saw the reopening of the Don CeSar hotel following a 7.5 million USD renovation. It rose to prominence as a top vacation spot for people looking for elegance with a touch of nostalgia.

The hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and a founding member of the National Trust of Historic Hotels in America. It was shown in several Hollywood films, including the Robert De Niro and James Woods film Once Upon a Time in America.

Corey Avenue

The Corey Avenue Shopping District is located between Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There are countless chances for shopping and souvenir shopping despite the short distance.

Most specialty shops along Corey Ave are independent and locally owned. Supporting the neighborhood economy and local artists by spending your hard-earned money here is a terrific idea.

Watersports

A great beach of white sand and blue waters comes with great outdoor experiences. One of the things St. Beach is famous for is the opportunities it offers for watersports and other activities. From parasailing to fishing, you can do the most on the US’ best beach.

Parasailing

There is no better way to take in St. Pete Beach’s breathtaking scenery than from the air. You will feel more liberated than you have in a long time as you soar 500 feet (152 m). You’ll fly over beaches through the Florida Gulf Coast’s crystal clear blue skies.

Jet Skiing

Rent a jet ski and have an afternoon of fun on the water. However, jet skiing on the ocean is best for experienced riders. You can easily explore other islands nearby, and maybe a couple or a whole pod of dolphins.

Windsurfing

Windsurfing is a tranquil method of moving through the water. You may pay a teacher to teach you how to windsurf; it’s not a difficult sport to pick up.

Pass-a-Grille Beach and St. Pete Beach both have shallow beaches where windsurfing is possible. Around St. Pete Beach and the broader Tampa Bay region, winds are common throughout the year, particularly in the fall.

Kayaking

Explore as much or as little of the shoreline as you’d like. You can meander over the waters at your own speed. You will get the chance to witness manatees, dolphins, and other marine creatures as a result. The opportunity to exercise and unwind on the water are additional benefits.

Fishing

Fishing is enjoyable since it involves relaxing on a boat while waiting to see what you can catch. St. Pete Beach’s seas are any angler’s paradise. The local variety of marine life like Grouper, Cobia, Ladyfish, Flounder, and a variety of Sharks, will make any fishing trip worthwhile. You can easily fish whether you wade into the ocean from the coast or cast from a boat out at sea.

Merry Pier

For both activities, Merry Pier is one of the best locations in St. Pete Beach.

Fishing rod rentals, live boats, and frozen bait are all available at Merry Pier. See if you can catch some flounder, redfish, or mackerel by spending a few hours fishing from the pier. The Fresh Fish Market always has fish for sale if you’re not lucky.

If you wish to explore the sea and take in the city skyline from a different angle, party boats also depart from Merry Pier for half-and full-day tours. From Merry Pier, you can also take a shuttle to Shell Key Preserve.

Which Is Better – St. Pete Beach or Clearwater Beach?

The best vacations are usually in places where it offers tons of activities and sights. In this case, St. Pete Beach is a clear winner. From a rich and fascinating history to water sports, St. Pete Beach boasts its high energy that can even surpass bigger cities in the region. If you’re looking for a more activity-oriented holiday, visiting St. Pete Beach is a great choice.

FAQ

Is Clearwater Beach Cheaper Than St. Pete Beach?

When it comes to prices and expenses, Clearwater Beach and the entire city of Clearwater are known to be more expensive. It has a wide range of accommodations but you’ll find more luxury choices. The beach also has a better nightlife scene. St. Pete Beach can feel like a huge stretch filled with historic places, while Clearwater Beach is more upscale and cosmopolitan.

Where to Stay – Clearwater Beach or St. Pete Beach?

If you’re looking for a wider range of accommodations, St. Pete Beach is the better choice. It has everything, from luxury hotels and resorts to small trendy hostels. Rates around St. Pete are also cheaper than in Clearwater.

Is St. Pete and Clearwater the Same Beach?

St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach are different places and are completely separate strips. St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach have more similarities than differences.

How Close Are St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach?

The distance between St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach is approximately 17 miles or 27 km, directly. If you want to take the road either by car or bus, the driving distance is around 20 miles or 32 km.

St. Pete Beach to Clearwater Beach Trolley

No beach trolley routes are coming out from St. Pete Beach. However, you’ll find an abundance of trolleys out of Clearwater Beach. The Suncoast Beach Trolley offers routes that start at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center and all the way down to St. Pete Beach.

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CAN YOU HAVE A PRICELESS FAMILY VACATION ON A BUDGET?

Are you ready to take the family on an epic vacation, but worried about the cost?

Our guide and checklists have got you covered! 

From affordable flights and accommodations to budget-friendly activities, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to enjoy a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank.

Get the guide now and start planning your dream family vacation on a budget!

Is Clearwater Beach or St. Pete Beach Closer to Tampa?

Both Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach sit close to the metropolitan area of Tampa. With a distance of 23 miles (36 km), both Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach are easily accessible to Tampa.

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